Benefit Cosmetics LLC, No. 20-cv-02552, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 28, 2022) (Wood, J.).
Judge Wood denied defendant Oxygen Ocean’s motion to set aside the parties’ settlement agreement in this trademark dispute involving plaintiff Benefit Cosmetics’
This was a Doe trademark case. Oxygen Ocean engaged with the Court and then was voluntarily dismissed allegedly based upon a settlement agreement. Oxygen Ocean, however, subsequently argued that it had not entered into the agreement alleging that the agreement was negotiated by counsel who lacked authority to settle the case or bind Oxygen Oceans. But the Court held that the agreement was valid and enforceable, refusing to set it aside:
- The agreement is written, with definite terms and appears to be signed by both parties;
- While Oxygen Oceans’ principle’s ID signature and agreement signature had “significant” differences, there were email exchanges that corroborated the principle’s knowledge of the agreement, its negotiations and its terms. While the principle claimed the email accounts were not his, that was belied by the fact that the principle used at least one of them to correspond with the Court’s deputy at the outset of the case.
- While Illinois law requires that counsel have authority to settle in order for an agreement to be binding, not just the decision maker’s knowledge, that was not an issue here because of the principle’s signature on the agreement and post-execution indications of assent to the terms.
While the record did show that Oxygen Oceans lied to the Court to support its argument, the Court refused to award Benefit Cosmetics’ its fees because the lie was made after the briefing and before the fees motion. So, it was not causally connected to the fees in that it did not cause Benefit Cosmetics to incur additional fees. Additionally, as a pro se litigant, the Court felt it was more appropriate to admonish the principle for the false statement and close the case.